Coronavirus causes drop in life expectancy, researchers warn
Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Experts detected a drop in life expectancy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Professor Katrien Antonio of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) announced on Monday at a webinar organised by the Belgian Institute of Actuaries.
Life expectancy is one of many ways in which the pandemic has had an impact on mortality, according to Antonio. She and her collaborators have established several scenarios based on the mortality figures recorded in 2020 and those relating to the new coronavirus.
Currently 101,377 deaths from all causes have been counted in Belgium this year (up to and including week 44) and about 15,522 are attributed to Covid-19.
In the most optimistic scenario, the number of deaths in the second half of 2020 is identical to the rate in 2019, while in the worst case scenario, the number of deaths in the second half of the year is equal to that in the first half.
Two intermediate options have been considered, in one of which the mortality of the second wave is 50% of that of the first, and the other in which it is 75%.
Sciensano experts did say last week that the second wave seems to be less deadly than the first while “once again claiming many lives.”
According to the IABE 2020 elements calibrated on European Human Mortality Database (HMD) and Eurostat data for the period 1988-2018 and Statbel data for 2019, boys have a life expectancy at birth of 79.76 years and girls of 83.78 years. Men aged 65 have a life expectancy of 18.80 years, compared with 21.70 years for women of the same age.
However, as the scenarios become darker, life expectancy falls. In the worst case, newborns have a life expectancy of 78.77 years for boys and 83.17 for girls. Men aged 65 have a life expectancy of 17.61 years, almost three years less than women of the same age, according to IABE projections.
The institute reminds people to handle the projections with caution because of the many uncertainties. More research will be needed to assess the long-term impact of Covid-19 on mortality, it concluded.